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About 18 kilometers southeast of Bariloche is the Club Andino Dr. Juan Neumeyer Mountain Refuge Hut situated in the middle of Nahuel Huapi National Park. Eight attractive hiking tours through Challhuaco Valley start there. They all feature different skill levels and are accessible for the whole family.
|As the previous step to any hiking tour is to reach the mountain refuge hut, hikers may choose self-guided hiking tours or the company of a local guide hired at any travel agency promoting ecological tourism for the family.|
We decided to climb up with a guide, who picked us up at the agreed time with a 4WD vehicle, ideal to drive along this road towards the mountain refuge hut. During the journey, we could see the mountain range surrounding the city: Mounts Otto, Catedral, Ventana, Ñireco and Carlon. Among other comments, our guide told us about the number of activities the mountain refuge hut offered to visitors and that the word “Challhuaco” meant “good fishing waters” in the Mapuche tongue. The 4WD vehicle turned into an unpaved road to drive the last 12 kilometers before starting our adventure and contemplative trip.
|On our arrival at the Neumeyer Mountain Refuge Hut, we were welcomed with a hearty breakfast which gave us the necessary energy to start the first hike. We visited the facilities that can accommodate 45 guests overnight. The place provides wood heating, light, kitchen equipped to satisfy guests’ needs, ladies and men restrooms (showers and hot water), board games, musical instruments and an attractive library. |
In the summer season, this place offers many more adventures than hiking on interpretive trails. For instance, mountain biking, climbing and rafting through the region whereas in the winter season the hut invites to practice activities such as Nordic or cross-country skiing, snowboarding, ski touring, off-piste skiing, snowshoeing and sled riding.
|After breakfast, it was time to select among the eight tours along the trails, very well marked in distinct colors. In the refuge hut, we were given the option to get a brochure for a better interpretation of the area or to require the help of a local guide to learn more about the region.|
The hiking tours along signposted trails include: Challhuaco Valley, a 20-minute walk with a full view, self-guided trail marked in yellow; the Valley of Lost, a one-hour walk along an interpretive trail marked in blue; the Green Lagoon and the Pedregoso viewpoint, a one-hour walk with full view and marked in red; the Ñirihuau and Ventana viewpoint, a one and a half-hour walk along Andean flora trail marked in orange; Challhuaco Mountain, a two hour and a half-walk along a trail marked in red and yellow; from the lagoon up to bridges Mellizos, a four-hour walk along a trail marked in pink; from Tristeza Creek up to the park ranger’s hut along a trail marked orange and ivory, ideal to visit by bicycle and Botella Creek, marked in ivory.
|Every trail offers various full views and hikers can enjoy beautiful sceneries of steppe and high-Andean flora as well as watch birds like woodpeckers and even observe some earthworms in the process of decomposition of a fallen piece of wood.|
We could stare at the Cuyín Manzano Mountain Range and Mount Anecón Grande, where the Mapuche people celebrates the Quilla Túm rite. Hikers can cross lagoons and observe the palette of colors of the understory flora and the whole wildlife.
On Mount Challhuaco, 1,900 meters of height, we could learn more about the real high-altitude Andean ecosystem. The Valley of the Lost hiking tour follows a wide botanical variety of Andean, steppe and forest ecosystems.
It is advisable to make one trip and come back to the large dining room of the mountain refuge hut to taste a handmade lunch and have a rest before the next hike. It is ideal to go on two or three hiking tours a day and one overnight stop in the refuge hut is recommended.
|At the end of the second hike, we had an afternoon snack with some delicious French pancakes filled with dulce de leche (milk jam) cooked by the chef of the refuge hut. We decided to start our way back to town and we got into the 4WD vehicle which led us back to civilization. |
It is important to walk along sign-posted trails, avoid picking flowers, damaging plants and berries. Carry the rubbish and leave it in the refuge hut. Walk quietly and respect nature. In this way, we will be closer to nature and every new hiker reaching the summit will be able to enjoy the purity we felt.
Rolando 263 (8400) San Carlos de Bariloche - Río Negro - Argentina
Tel: +54 294 443-7527 / 443-3899